"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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To keep the annual maintenance of your arbor to an absolute minimum do not paint or stain a newly erected arbor! Just have the natural wood look and apply a water-repellent sealer every 2-3 years or as required.
Once it's been painted or stained, you are stuck with the regular chore of sanding and repainting the arbor which is no fun.

Wooden Arbors

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Wooden arbors. Wooden arbor kits.

One great way to welcome your friends and family to your yard is with a beautiful decorative garden arbor. Whether you want to give your yard a distinctive edge for a gathering or party or just enjoy a new and unusual entrance to your garden, it can be done a with a hand-made, all natural cedar arbor. It will definitely add some class to your backyard. The arches make wonderful entrances between yards, into garden or swimming pool areas. Garden arbors can be free-standing, fitted with gates or attached to fencing to create an entrance gate to your yard. A combination of arbor and trellises make a great place to grow rose bushes or vines. Arbors come in many sizes and styles and can be arched, flat topped or peaked. Wooden arbors are usually well sanded so you can paint, stain or let age naturally. Arbors can be moved around rather easily and assembled quickly so you can be experiencing your new look as quickly as possible.
Maintenance. If you want to keep the natural wood look do not paint or stain the arbor. Over time the natural color will fade to a rustic gray. Just apply a water-repellent sealer every 2-3 years or as required.

Painted wooden arbor in country setting
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